Florida State Seminoles: Brandon Mitchell

ACC's lunchtime links

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
12:00
PM ET
Enjoy the games!

ACC predictions: Week 13

November, 21, 2013
11/21/13
9:00
AM ET
Hard to believe that only two weeks remain in the regular season. Andrea is clinging to a one-game lead on Heather in the overall predictions standings at 71-20, after they each went 4-2 last week. Neither saw Maryland coming into Blacksburg, Va., and upsetting Virginia Tech. Bet we were not alone there.

On to the picks!

OLD DOMINION (8-3) at NORTH CAROLINA (5-5), noon, ESPN3. #ODUvsUNC. The Tar Heels are going for their fifth straight win and bowl eligibility against a team that is 0-2 against ACC competition already this year. Old Dominion has put up some points this season, but the Tar Heels' D has been vastly improved in this recent winning streak and will be able to shut the Monarchs down. With another punt return for score, Ryan Switzer would tie the ACC single-season record.

AA picks: North Carolina 40, Old Dominion 17

HD's pick: North Carolina 44, Old Dominion 24

DUKE (8-2, 4-2) at WAKE FOREST (4-6, 2-5), noon, ESPN2. #DUKEvsWF. Before winning last season, Duke had lost 12 straight games to the Deacs. But the Blue Devils today are the superior program, with better athletes all the way around. They have successfully used two quarterbacks all season, and their defense is filled with young talent and playmakers at linebacker. Duke is 3-0 on the road and should pick up another win against an offensively challenged Deacs team still trying to find some answers with Michael Campanaro out.

AA picks: Duke 35, Wake Forest 20

HD's pick: Duke 24, Wake Forest 21

CITADEL (5-6) at No. 7 CLEMSON (9-1), noon, ESPN3. #CITvsCLEM. It's senior day at Clemson, giving the Tigers the opportunity to honor Tajh Boyd and his fellow seniors. The question is just how much Boyd will play after bruising his collarbone last week, especially with a big game looming next week against South Carolina. Coach Dabo Swinney says he prefers to have an FCS opponent in this slot, giving the Tigers ample time to prepare for their in-state nemesis.

AA picks: Clemson 56, The Citadel 3

HD's pick: Clemson 45, The Citadel 10

VIRGINIA (2-8, 0-6) at MIAMI (7-3, 3-3), noon, ESPNU. #UVAvsMIA. Miami's issues against UVa are common knowledge, so this game sets up to be closer than what some might anticipate. Plus, the Hurricanes have lost three straight after a 7-0 start and have seen their defense drop off considerably. Virginia does not scream offensive juggernaut, but neither did Virginia Tech and the Hokies racked up 42 points in a win two weeks ago. The Hoos have a solid back in Kevin Parks, No. 3 in the ACC in rushing, and a good tight end in Jake McGee, who will make some plays, but ultimately, Stephen Morris and the Miami offense will make a few more plays to win.

AA picks: Miami 28, Virginia 27

HD's pick: Miami 34, Virginia 24

EAST CAROLINA (8-2) at NC STATE (3-7), ESPN3. #ECUvsNCST. The Pirates took down North Carolina earlier this year, nearly beat Virginia Tech, and go into this game as the favorites. NC State has looked like a ragged bunch, losing six straight in its worst season since 2006. There is no doubt East Carolina has the much better quarterback, as Shane Carden has turned in an outstanding season. But NC State is going to find a way to dig deep and come out with a win thanks to a few big plays from its pass game.

AA picks: NC State 28, East Carolina 24

HD's pick: East Carolina 41, NC State 14: ECU is No. 10 in the country in scoring offense at 41.5 points per game, and Carden leads the No. 8 passing offense in the country. The Pirates undoubtedly have the edge at quarterback, as NC State has struggled with both Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas. The two have combined for 15 interceptions and five touchdowns. Carden threw that many TDs by himself last week. If North Carolina was embarrassed by the Pirates at home, there’s no reason to believe the Wolfpack will fare much better. ECU is a solid eight-win team that, unlike NC State, is bowl eligible.

PITT (5-5, 2-4) at SYRACUSE (5-5, 3-3), 12:30 p.m., ESPN3. #PITTvsCUSE. This game is a toss-up, as is nearly every league game these two teams have played this season (excluding Clemson and Florida State). Both are coming off losses, and both need one win for bowl eligibility. The problem for the Panthers is they have no real identity on offense. Syracuse does, and that is pounding the football. The Orange will get enough out of their run game and keep Aaron Donald at bay to win a close one.

AA picks: Syracuse 24, Pitt 23

HD's pick: Syracuse 21, Pitt 17

ALABAMA A&M (4-7) at GEORGIA TECH (6-4), 1:30 p.m., ESPN3. #AAMUvsGT. Like Clemson and Florida State, Georgia Tech also gets a warm-up game before it closes with its in-state rival next week. Coach Paul Johnson says the focus is on getting better at what his team does this week. You can bet Robert Godhigh will have another terrific performance, following his 100-yard rushing/100-yard receiving day against Clemson. Godhigh is on pace to set the ACC mark for highest average yards per carry, currently at 9.5.

AA picks: Georgia Tech 55, Alabama A&M 3

HD's pick: Georgia Tech 56, Alabama A&M 10

IDAHO (1-9) at No. 2 FLORIDA STATE (10-0), 3:30 p.m., ESPNU. #IDAHOvsFSU. Once again, the question is how long will Jimbo Fisher keep his starters in, especially with a bigger game against rival Florida looming. This also seems as good a time as any to get backup quarterback Sean Maguire some reps. Idaho is one of the worst teams in the entire country, and this game should be out of hand by the end of the first quarter.

AA picks: Florida State 65, Idaho 0

HD's pick: FSU 72, Idaho 3

BOSTON COLLEGE (6-4, 3-3) at MARYLAND (6-4, 2-4), 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. #BCvsMD. This may have been the toughest game to pick this week. Maryland is coming off an impressive win at Virginia Tech, while Andre Williams has put together two straight games of incredible performances. So which direction will this game go? It is hard to pick against the Eagles given what Williams and the offensive line have done this season. Simply put, they have worn the opposition down. Maryland has had injuries to contend with on defense, so I think BC will end up wearing the Terps down in the end.

AA picks: BC 24, Maryland 21

HD's pick: Maryland 21, Boston College 17: This game could go either way, but with it being the final home game in Byrd Stadium, it was hard to pick against the Terps. More importantly, Maryland has fared well this year in stopping the run, and is ranked No. 30 in the country in rushing defense, holding opponents to 139.8 yards per game. Boston College has made its living this fall with its running game, and Williams is certainly no secret. The Terps will be looking to slow down the ACC’s all-time single-season rushing leader, and they’ve also got the advantage in quarterback with C.J. Brown.

ACC lunchtime links

November, 13, 2013
11/13/13
12:00
PM ET
Not a bad Tuesday night of hoops, huh?

ACC Power Rankings: Week 10

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
9:00
AM ET
There was a bit of shuffling in the middle this week, and it’s getting more difficult to use head-to-head results to determine the pecking order. The bottom, though, remains status quo with only two teams still winless in league play. Here’s how the ACC stacks up with just four weeks remaining:

1. Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC; LW: No. 1) – The Noles left no doubt they were the better team in their 41-14 win over Miami on Saturday, further stating their case as a national title contender. With Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida left on the schedule, the most difficult stretch is now behind FSU. The Noles have scored at least 40 points in every game this season.

2. Clemson (8-1, 6-1; LW: No. 3) – The Tigers played arguably their most complete game of the season in a 59-10 drubbing of Virginia. Quarterback Tajh Boyd became the ACC's career leader in touchdowns responsible for, and he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. Clemson has a bye week to prepare for a tricky game against Georgia Tech, which has won three straight and has historically given the Tigers some headaches.

3. Miami (7-1, 3-1; LW: No. 2) – Not only did Miami lose the game, the Canes also lost star running back Duke Johnson to an injury. The good news for Miami is that it is still in the lead to win the Coastal Division. The task for the Canes now is to shake off the disappointment and realize that a rematch with Florida State is still possible. First, they have to get past the Hokies on Saturday in a game that will either further distance Miami from the pack, or cause more confusion in the division race.

4. Georgia Tech (6-3, 5-2; LW: No. 6) – The Jackets became bowl eligible with their 21-10 win over Pitt, a performance in which the defense was the highlight with five sacks. Georgia Tech is playing well now, but it’s probably too little, too late. The Jackets likely played themselves out of the Coastal Division race earlier with back-to-back losses against Virginia Tech and Miami. It’s only going to get tougher with a road trip to Death Valley looming.

5. Duke (6-2, 2-2; LW: No. 4) – The bowl-eligible Blue Devils had a bye week to revel in their monumental win at Virginia Tech. The next step is winning the unofficial state championship. Duke hosts NC State this weekend, and ends the season with back-to-back road trips against Wake Forest and North Carolina. Every game left on the schedule -- including Miami -- is winnable.

6. Boston College (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 10) – The Eagles have been oh-so-close to a breakthrough win this fall, and they finally knocked the door down against Virginia Tech. BC has established its identity as a disciplined, power running team with a determined defense, and it’s been a remarkable turnaround in the first season under coach Steve Addazio.

7. Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2; LW: No. 5) – The Hokies took two steps back in the past two weeks, and now face what could be an elimination game in the Coastal Division race. After back-to-back losses to Duke and BC, Virginia Tech is now in a must-win situation on the road against Miami. The Hokies have turned it over eight times in the past two games, though, and on Saturday, the defense didn’t help.

8. Pitt (4-4, 2-3; LW: No. 9) – The Panthers’ 21-10 loss to Georgia Tech significantly decreased their chances of playing for the ACC title, but their bowl hopes are still alive, and they’ve got a big game against Notre Dame looming. Once again, the pass protection was an issue. Keeping quarterback Tom Savage on his feet will be critical in becoming bowl eligible.

9. North Carolina (3-5, 2-3; LW: No. 12) – The Tar Heels helped redeem themselves from an otherwise disappointing season with a 27-19 win at NC State, the program’s first win in Raleigh since 2005. UNC is likely out of the ACC race, but the Tar Heels can still salvage the season by reaching six wins.

10. Syracuse (4-4, 2-2; LW: No. 11) – It was a defensive struggle en route to a 13-0 home win over Wake Forest, but the Orange kept its bowl hopes alive. Syracuse faces a tough two weeks, though, as the Orange play back-to-back road games against Maryland and Florida State.

11. Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4; LW: No. 7) – The Deacs were devastated not only by the loss, but also by the season-ending injury to top playmaker and wide receiver Michael Campanaro, who broke his collarbone in the first quarter and will miss four to six weeks. Wake’s bowl hopes are now hanging by a thread, as the Deacs need two more wins and still have to face Florida State, Duke and Vanderbilt.

12. Maryland (5-3, 1-3; LW: No. 8 ) – The Terps had a much-needed bye week to rest and heal, and coach Randy Edsall said last week he expects to have more players healthy for Saturday’s game against Syracuse. Maryland has been just one win away from bowl eligibility for three weeks now, but the Terps have a good chance to get it done at home this weekend.

13. NC State (3-5, 0-5; LW: No. 13) – The hits just keep on coming for the beleaguered Pack, which dropped to 0-5 after their loss to rival North Carolina – the team’s fifth straight ACC loss under first-year coach Dave Doeren. Doeren called a regrettable fake punt, and quarterback Brandon Mitchell threw two picks. There was plenty of blame to go around.

14. Virginia (2-7, 0-5; LW: No. 14) – The Hoos were absolutely rolled over at home by Clemson in a 59-10 loss. Clemson racked up 610 total yards, and Virginia has now lost six straight games. UVa has back-to-back road games against North Carolina and Miami before ending the season at home against rival Virginia Tech.

Five things: FSU vs. NC State

October, 26, 2013
10/26/13
7:00
AM ET
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State is fresh off its biggest win in years and ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings. NC State has dropped three of its last four games and arrives as the decided underdog. That’s actually been a dangerous scenario for the Seminoles in recent seasons, when NC State has made a habit of pulling the upset. Here are five keys likely to decide if Florida State keeps riding high or if the Wolfpack have another surprise in store.

1. Contain the QBs: Florida State’s Jameis Winston has thrown for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his first four ACC games. No other first-year quarterback has done that in the past 10 years. Winston’s four previous ACC foes, however, allowed an average of 230 pass yards per game, 61 percent completions and 7.4 yards per attempt. NC State (204 yards per game, 57 percent completions, 6.0 yap) could provide a more substantive obstacle. Meanwhile, Wolfpack QB Brandon Mitchell expects to play for the first time since suffering a foot injury in the opener. He’s athletic with a strong arm and could provide the NC State offense with a spark it hadn’t shown recently.

2. Eliminate the clutter: It’s Jimbo Fisher’s favorite mantra, but it’s particularly appropriate this week. Not only will Florida State have to shrug off the legions of fans dreaming of a national title after last week’s dominant win in Clemson, but the weight of the past will also loom large. Longtime coach Bobby Bowden is set to attend his first game at Doak Campbell Stadium since his ouster in 2009, and more than 300 former players plan to be in attendance. That’s a lot of fanfare and pageantry that has little to do with the actual game, and that’s meant a week of Fisher reminding his team to ignore all the distractions.

3. Remember the pain: That’s the other message Fisher has preached this week, but Florida State’s players haven’t needed the reminder. So many of this year’s Seminoles were on the field for last year’s 17-16 loss -- the one that sunk any hopes for a national title and sullied an otherwise successful season. Fisher has used last year’s loss as a reminder of what can happen if FSU overlooks an opponent, but it’s also a good reminder for the Wolfpack that they’re not an easy mark. In fact, since 2002, NC State is 5-2 against ranked Florida State teams.

4. Success in the slot: In last year’s win, Mike Glennon’s longest completion was a check down to his tailback that went 24 yards. On NC State’s two touchdown drives, Glennon had just three completions of more than 9 yards. The game-winning score was a 2-yard toss to slot receiver Bryan Underwood. In other words, it was death by a thousand dinks and dunks for FSU last year, with NC State’s slot receivers and tailbacks catching one pass after another against the Seminoles linebackers and nickel. Meanwhile, FSU’s slot receiver, Kenny Shaw, has been a master of the big play this season as 61 percent of his catches have gone for 15 yards or more, the third-highest rate in the ACC.

5. Get the run game going: In its five games against FBS teams this year, NC State is averaging 44 rushing attempts -- the second most in the ACC. The Wolfpack’s offense has lived and died with the ground game. During a 3-1 start to the year, NC State averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored 10 times on the ground. In its last two games, both losses, it has mustered just 3.2 yards per rush without a touchdown. Florida State, meanwhile, has allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season and has held its last two opponents to 2.4 yards per carry. The Seminoles’ offense has some potential concerns on the ground, too, though. James Wilder Jr. will miss the game with concussion symptoms, and FSU has seen its yards-per-carry drop in each of its last four games.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 9

October, 24, 2013
10/24/13
10:15
AM ET
With only Syracuse on a bye this week, there will be plenty to keep an eye on in the conference. Here’s a look at what to watch in Week 9, in no particular order:

1. Florida State flashback: All eyes will be on the pregame scene in Tallahassee, where former Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden will make his first return to Doak Campbell Stadium since he was ousted following the 2009 season. Bowden will plant the famous spear at midfield, and nearly 400 former players are expected to attend the No. 2-ranked Seminoles’ game against NC State. "There's no nerves," Bowden told ESPN.com’s David Hale. "I'm excited about it, getting to see a lot of people."

[+] EnlargeBrandon Mitchell
Lance King/Getty ImagesBrandon Mitchell has been out since the opener for NC State.
2. Brandon Mitchell's return: While Florida State will be celebrating the return of its legendary coach, the Wolfpack will be celebrating the return of its injured starting quarterback. Mitchell broke his left foot in the season opener and hasn’t played since. He won the job over Pete Thomas this preseason, and his athleticism seemed to fit first-year coach Dave Doeren’s no-huddle offense well. He’ll face one of the toughest defenses in the country, though, on Saturday.

3. Wake’s hopes at an upset: The Demon Deacons are on a roll, having won back-to-back Atlantic Division games, and while the Canes lead the series 7-3, all three of Wake’s wins have come at Miami. Wake is looking to snap a six-game losing streak against ranked teams -- and Saturday is the 67th anniversary of the program’s win over No. 4 Tennessee, the highest-ranked team Wake has ever defeated. If the Deacs can continue to get the ball to receiver Michael Campanaro and play stingy defense, they could have a chance. Especially considering …

4. Miami’s ball security: You’ve heard it a million times this week. Miami has turned it over 12 times in the past three weeks. The Hurricanes the only team in the country to have at least four turnovers in three consecutive games this season and the first since East Carolina in 2011. Miami has also had four red-zone turnovers in its past three games. Meanwhile, Wake’s defense forced three turnovers in the Deacs’ victory over Maryland last week. Speaking of the Terps, watch out for …

5. Maryland’s quarterback controversy: It’s C.J. Brown OR Caleb Rowe listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart for Saturday’s game against Clemson, and coach Randy Edsall has played coy about Brown’s status since last week. Edsall said the indecision on his starter is health-related, not performance-related, but wouldn’t specify what’s wrong with Brown. Brown struggled in last week’s loss at Wake Forest, and Edsall said it was because of an injury unrelated to the concussion Brown suffered against Florida State. Stay tuned for which QB will be leading the Terps’ offense against a stingy Clemson D.

6. UNC’s run defense: Miami gashed the Tar Heels for 234 yards on the ground last week -- and that was with their leading rusher, Duke Johnson, sidelined for three quarters and four turnovers from the Canes. Boston College makes its living on the running game, led by senior Andre Williams, who leads the ACC and ranks fifth nationally in rushing yards per game (139.7).

7. Clemson’s rebound: Last week’s 51-14 home loss to Florida State was humbling and devastating to the Tigers. It knocked them out of the national championship picture, all but ruined quarterback Tajh Boyd's chances at winning the Heisman Trophy, and put them behind the Seminoles in the ACC race. How will the Tigers respond on the road? They’ve got more talent than the depleted Terps, but emotion could be a factor early.

8. Virginia Tech’s secondary: Veteran cornerback Antone Exum is expected to finally return for Saturday’s home game against Duke, more than eight months after he had offseason surgery to repair his ACL and a bone fracture. Exum was cleared Sept. 30, but he and the staff have played it cautious. Senior CB Kyle Fuller has broken up 10 passes in seven games and ranks fourth in the nation in passes defended (1.71 per game). They will come in handy against quarterback Duke, which is averaging 269 passing yards per game.

9. Replacement receivers: The ACC will be missing three of its top receivers, with Maryland’s Stefon Diggs and Deon Long and Miami’s Phillip Dorsett all out with injuries. Levern Jacobs will step in at the slot position in place of Diggs, and redshirt freshman Amba Etta-Tawo will take over Long’s spot. With Dorsett out at Miami, that likely means an increased role for Malcolm Lewis, who is listed as a backup at two spots, and true freshman Stacy Coley, who is listed as a co-starter at wide receiver, a starting kick returner and co-starter at punt returner.

10. BC WR Alex Amidon: The Eagles can do more than just run the ball, and Amidon needs just 144 receiving yards to become BC’s all-time leading pass receiver. He has three 100-plus yard receiving games this season and a school-record 10 for his 39-game collegiate career.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 8

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
9:00
AM ET
There was a definite shake-up in the ACC hierarchy this weekend, as No. 5-ranked Florida State went to Death Valley and humbled No. 3-ranked Clemson 51-14 on Saturday night. The Seminoles, led by their unflappable 19-year-old quarterback, Jameis Winston, dominated the Tigers from start to finish. For the first time this season, the ACC has a new No. 1:

1. Florida State (6-0, 4-0 ACC, last week: 2): The defense was the storyline, as the Seminoles flustered veteran quarterback Tajh Boyd into what was easily the worst outing of his career. He threw two picks and just one touchdown and completed only 46 percent of his passes. Florida State converted two turnovers into touchdowns early and never looked back. The Noles host NC State this weekend, but this Florida State team is light years better than the one that was upset by the Wolfpack a season ago. There’s not even a hint of an upset brewing in Tallahassee.

2. Miami (6-0, 2-0, LW: 3): The Hurricanes didn’t look like a top-10 team on Thursday night in Chapel Hill, N.C., where they needed a game-winning touchdown from backup running back Dallas Crawford with 16 seconds left to beat a North Carolina team that has now sunk to 1-5. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris threw four interceptions and the Canes lost two of their top playmakers -- receiver Phillip Dorsett and running back Duke Johnson -- to injuries. Miami found a way to win, though, and only Wake Forest stands between the Canes and their showdown with the rival Noles in two weeks. Expect both to be undefeated for that game.

3. Clemson (6-1, 4-1, LW: 1) : If Clemson had lost to FSU in a close, hard-fought game, it wouldn’t have taken so much criticism, but because the Tigers lost so convincingly, it’s clear the gap between Florida State and Clemson was as wide as the lopsided score indicated. Clemson’s chances at a national title were devastated, along with Boyd’s Heisman Trophy hopes, all in four quarters. The spotlight has shifted to Florida State while the Tigers try to regroup on Saturday at Maryland.

4. Virginia Tech (6-1, 3-0, LW: 4): The Hokies had a bye week to prepare for Duke on Saturday, but they have quietly continued to work their way up the conference standings this fall. Quarterback Logan Thomas has made significant strides and cut down on his interceptions, and the defense continues to look like one of the best in the country. The matchup in Miami should determine the Coastal division winner this fall, and if the Canes continue to turn it over at this disconcerting rate, it’s the Hokies’ title to lose.

5. Georgia Tech (4-3, 3-2, LW: 11): The Yellow Jackets played as if they had something to prove on Saturday, ending a three-game losing streak with a complete pummeling of Syracuse. Georgia Tech scored seven rushing touchdowns in a 56-0 rout of the Orange. It was the program’s biggest margin of victory in an ACC game. The Jackets need to win three of their next five to become bowl eligible, and a road trip to struggling Virginia is up next.

6. Pittsburgh (4-2, 2-2, LW: 6): It wasn’t exactly a flawless performance in a 35-24 win against Old Dominion, but the Panthers took care of business, and their only two losses are to Florida State and Virginia Tech, two of the top teams in the ACC right now. The Panthers got what they needed from Isaac Bennett, who ran for a career-high 240 yards and three touchdowns. They’re going to have to sharpen their game, though, for back-to-back road trips to Navy and Georgia Tech.

7. Duke (5-2, 1-2, LW: 7): The Blue Devils didn’t quit on the road, and they’re just one win away from bowl eligibility for the second straight season under coach David Cutcliffe. Duke overcame a 22-0 deficit at Virginia to scrape its way back to a 35-22 win. It was a remarkable comeback by Duke and an utter meltdown by the Hoos. Duke has now won three straight heading into Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech.

8. Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2, LW: 10): The Deacs have hit their stride offensively, and receiver Michael Campanaro continues to be the face of the team. Wake’s defense, though, was a highlight in the its win over Maryland, and the team has helped keep its bowl hopes alive. Wake Forest will face a tough test this week, as it has to travel to undefeated Miami.

9. Maryland (5-2, 1-2, LW: 5): Not only do the Terps seem to have a quarterback controversy between starter C.J. Brown and backup Caleb Rowe, but they’ve also got injuries to two of their top receivers in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Brown was benched in the loss to Wake Forest and replaced by Rowe, but neither of them could overcome a gritty performance by the Deacs’ veteran defense. What once seemed like a guaranteed return to the postseason has now become a shrinking window with no margin for error.

10. Boston College (3-3, 1-2, LW: 9): The Eagles have lost three of their past four but have developed a reputation as one of the toughest teams in the ACC nonetheless. Two of those losses have come to Atlantic division leaders FSU and Clemson. The Eagles had a bye week to prepare for their road trip to North Carolina, and, considering how poorly UNC has played this season, the Eagles have a good shot at their second league win.

11. Syracuse (3-4, 1-2, LW: 8): It’s been an unpleasant introduction into the ACC for the Orange, to say the least. Georgia Tech put on a clinic against Cuse on Saturday, and the defense went into shutdown mode. Terrel Hunt has struggled, completing 43.1 percent of his passes against league opponents. The Orange have a much-needed bye week before facing Wake Forest on Nov. 2.

12. NC State (3-3, 0-3, LW: 12): Like BC, the Pack has lost three of its past four. The difference is that NC State is still winless in conference play under first-year coach Dave Doeren. Starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell is expected to return for Saturday’s game at Florida State, his first time playing since he broke a bone in his left foot in the season opener.

13. North Carolina (1-5, 0-3, LW: 13): The Tar Heels got their best defensive performance of the season on Thursday night against Miami, and tight end Eric Ebron put on quite an audition for the NFL scouts in attendance, but the Tar Heels couldn’t stop the run and are now off to their worst start since 2006. UNC has lost four straight and will try to rebound on Saturday at home against BC.

14. Virginia (2-5, 0-3, LW: 14): After squandering a 22-point lead at home against Duke on Saturday, Mike London’s career is seemingly hanging by a thread. Whether the Hoos can win another game is a legitimate question, and, despite the administration’s continued support for London, there doesn’t seem to be any way he could survive a 2-10 season.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 6

October, 3, 2013
10/03/13
10:15
AM ET
After a few weeks of mediocre games, the ACC gets down to business with a top-25 showdown in Tallahassee and a battle of Coastal Division contenders in Miami. Here are some of the top storylines as the ACC gets rolling in Week 6:

Battle of undefeated teams: At this point, Maryland and Florida State are both playing second fiddle to Clemson in the Atlantic Division, but the winner of Saturday's showdown in Tallahassee will firmly establish itself as the Tigers' top rival. FSU remains the heavy favorite, having never lost to Maryland in 11 previous games at Doak Campbell Stadium, but its defense was exposed last week against Boston College, and the Terps have plenty of offensive firepower. Still, the Seminoles are easily the most talented team Maryland has faced during its 4-0 start, and even coach Randy Edsall said it will take a stellar effort to overcome a long track record of struggles against FSU.

[+] EnlargeTerrel Hunt
Mark Konezny/USA TODAY SportsSyracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt has thrown for seven touchdowns and no interceptions since replacing Drew Allen as the starter.
Coastal Division showdown: In the span of four quarters against Virginia Tech's formidable defense, Georgia Tech went from potential favorite to divisional life support last week. The Yellow Jackets couldn't find an answer to the Hokies' defensive scheme, and they're now faced with a showdown against undefeated Miami in South Florida. A second conference loss -- both to teams ahead of them in the standings -- would likely spell doom for the Jackets' hopes of returning to the ACC championship game. Miami, meanwhile, needs to keep pace with the resurgent Hokies, and Georgia Tech promises a far bigger test than the Hurricanes have gotten in the past two weeks, when they beat Savannah State and USF by a combined 126-28.

The rich get richer: After eight months of rehab on his injured knee, Virginia Tech corner Antone Exum has finally been cleared to play, though a decision on whether he'll take the field this weekend isn't expected until after today's practice. That's not exactly good news for ACC offenses already at a loss for how to solve the Hokies' stingy defense. With Exum out of the lineup, freshmen Brandon Facyson and Kendall Fuller have been phenomenal, combining for six interceptions and 12 passes defended in five games. Exum, meanwhile, was a second-team All-ACC corner last season. With Exum's return imminent, Facyson is getting reps at receiver, but it'll be up to coordinator Bud Foster to deal with the rather pleasant of finding reps for everyone.

Under the Dome: Syracuse kicks off ACC play for the first time, but the welcoming committee isn't likely to be particularly accommodating. Clemson heads to the Carrier Dome fresh off a throttling of Wake Forest and figures to present the Orange with a far bigger challenge than they've faced during their two-game winning streak against Wagner and Tulane. Still, Syracuse is far more optimistic about the season now that new starting QB Terrel Hunt has the offense rolling, and the Orange are expecting a nearly packed house.

Heisman watch in the ACC: Tajh Boyd has been an early favorite since the season started, and he burnished his credentials nicely last week against Wake Forest, completing 17 of 24 passes for 311 yards and three TDs, while rushing for a fourth. The upstart in the race is Winston, who led another ferocious offensive outburst for Florida State by completing 17 of 27 passes for 330 yards and four TDs. Both QBs get another shot to add to their increasingly impressive totals this week as the crowded field vying for the Heisman jockeys for the spotlight.

QB injuries: In Pittsburgh, Tom Savage faced a battery of concussion tests after being knocked around against Virginia. At Miami, the Hurricanes host Georgia Tech with starting quarterback Stephen Morris still nursing an ankle injury that he aggravated against USF. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas is coming off his best game of the season, but he has been hampered with an abdominal injury for weeks. If any of those injuries prove more serious than initial reports, the always-fluid Coastal Division race could be in for another shakeup.

North Carolina's effort: After a stunning 55-31 loss to East Carolina last week, UNC tailback A.J. Blue publicly questioned whether his team had overlooked a supposedly subpar opponent. The same result isn't likely this week, as the Tar Heels travel to Virginia Tech hoping to salvage their season. A win could reinvigorate North Carolina's hopes in the division, but a loss would send the Heels to 1-4 with another tough game against Miami to follow. It's only Week 5, but North Carolina appears to already be in a must-win situation.

Virginia's slumbering offense: After a 14-3 loss to Pittsburgh, coach Mike London and QB David Watford both lamented Virginia's sluggish offensive performance. London promised changes on the O-line, Watford insisted on extra work with his receivers and the entirety of the unit really has nowhere to go but up this week against Ball State. Virginia ranks 13th in the ACC in scoring offense and passing offense, and its minus-4 turnover margin ranks 110th nationally. Meanwhile, Ball State QB Keith Wenning has thrown for more than 300 yards in every game so far, meaning the Cavaliers are likely going to need some offensive fireworks of their own to keep pace.

Return of Mitchell: If all goes according to plan, this week's game against Wake Forest will be NC State's last without starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell, who broke a bone in his foot in the opener. Pete Thomas has done a solid enough job in Mitchell's absence, but there's a clear gap in playmaking ability. Thomas' 80-yard TD throw to Bryan Underwood in last week's win was his first passing touchdown of the season (to go with five INTs), but the Wolfpack are 3-1 with him as the starter.

Boston College bounce-back: Now that the Defense Department has given Army the OK to travel for the game, it's safe for Boston College to start planning for a rebound performance after last week's loss to Florida State. In spite of the outcome from a week ago, BC should have plenty of confidence. The Eagles offense scored 34 points, its high in an ACC game since 2009, and ran the ball successfully against what was thought to be a stout FSU defense. A loss is still a loss, but the impressive offensive performance was yet another sign that BC has taken some big steps forward under first-year coach Steve Addazio.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 5

September, 26, 2013
9/26/13
10:15
AM ET
The Week 5 slate has a handful of conference showdowns on tap, but the weekend figures to have its share of mismatches, too. Here are a few storylines to watch as the ACC closes out the season's first month:

[+] EnlargeVad Lee
Mark Dolejs/USA TODAY SportsGeorgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee and the Yellow Jackets face a tough Virginia Tech defense on Thursday.
Vad Lee's big test: It's been a sterling start for the Georgia Tech QB, but the test gets much tougher this week. Lee has thrown seven touchdowns and rushed for three more through three games, and Georgia Tech's offense looks primed for a big season. But Virginia Tech's defense ranks among the nation's best thus far. The Hokies lead the ACC in rushing defense (96.5 yards per game) and have allowed just two passing plays of 25 yards or more through four weeks -- the two areas the Yellow Jackets have thrived. Georgia Tech took a big step toward establishing itself as a contender last week, but if Lee can find a way to break Virginia Tech's defensive stranglehold this week, the Yellow Jackets just might be the new favorite in the Coastal Division.

As Logan Thomas goes ...: The Hokies' offense has been brutal through four games, with Thomas shouldering the bulk of the criticism -- for good reason. He's completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes with just four TDs to go with six interceptions. But when Thomas is sharp, there's hope. On Tech's three scoring drives vs. Marshall last week, he was 10-of-13 for 106 yards. The rest of the game, he was just 8-of-10 for 75 yards. One key may be running Thomas more often. He had 23 rushing attempts against Marshall -- nearly double his total from the first three games combined.

Supporting the cause: As big as Georgia Tech's win over North Carolina last week was in the standings, it was the message Lee and others wore on wristbands designed to draw attention toward a push to reform NCAA regulations on player compensation and other issues. Coach Paul Johnson said this week that there should have been a team vote before any players took such a public stand, so it will be interesting to see if Tech's protesters take a step back or if more players -- both on the Yellow Jackets and around the nation -- step up to make a stand.

North Carolina's struggles: The Tar Heels figured to be at the top of the ACC's second tier this season, but they've hardly looked the part so far. UNC never really challenged South Carolina in a marquee nonconference opener, and the Heels blew a lead against Georgia Tech last week that puts them in an early hole in the division. Bryn Renner and the offense haven't been nearly as potent as the talent on the roster suggests, and the defense has struggled to stop the run all year. North Carolina tries to rebound against East Carolina this week, but the Pirates took Virginia Tech to the brink just two weeks ago and won't be a pushover.

More highlights from Crowder: In last week's loss, junior Jamison Crowder ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown and returned a punt for a score -- the first time that feat had been accomplished at Duke since 1999. The Blue Devils' defense appears to be in complete disarray, but Crowder has injected enough life into the offense and special teams that Duke has at least remained competitive -- including last week's ferocious comeback attempt against Pitt. For the year, Crowder ranks among the ACC leaders in receptions (30), receiving yards (381), touchdowns (4) and all-purpose yards (668).

Keeping the faith at NC State: The Wolfpack nearly pulled the upset last week against Clemson, but concerns remain at quarterback, where Pete Thomas has yet to throw a TD pass this year. Still, NC State has kept itself afloat with a 2-1 start, and Brandon Mitchell could be back in a few weeks. The Wolfpack don't figure to be tested much against Central Michigan, and with a manageable schedule leading up to an Oct. 26 showdown against Florida State, Thomas simply needs to steady the ship and avoid catastrophe to keep NC State in the mix in the ACC.

Battle of the ground games: In the past 35 games, just four players have managed to exceed 100 yards on the ground against Florida State's defense. One of them is Boston College's Andre Williams, who is off to a strong start in 2013. He'll be the key to any potential BC upset, but the Seminoles have plenty of weapons in their backfield, too. Devonta Freeman has run for more than 100 yards in each of the past two games and ranks fourth in the nation in yards per carry. Offensive newcomer Karlos Williams has racked up 193 yards and three scores on just 17 carries so far. Overall, FSU ranks third in the country averaging 7.2 yards per rush so far this season.

Clemson building momentum: The general consensus after last week's near miss against NC State is that Clemson got lucky to escape with a win. A close call on what appeared to be a long touchdown for the Wolfpack was followed by a key turnover, swinging the momentum in a 26-14 Tigers win, but Tajh Boyd wasn't at his best and Clemson showed some vulnerability. The task against struggling Wake Forest this week will be to regain that air of invincibility, getting Boyd's Heisman campaign back on track and establishing that the Tigers are still the team to beat in the ACC.

Stephen Morris' health: The Miami quarterback left last week's blowout win over Savannah State early with a bone bruise in his right ankle, but he insists the injury isn't serious. He said he expects to be in the lineup when Miami takes on winless South Florida this week, and it could be a good chance for him to jump-start his season. While the Hurricanes are off to a 3-0 start, Morris is completing just 53 percent of his throws and has just four touchdowns to go with two INTs. USF's D hasn't been tested much through the air so far, but the unit figures to provide a bigger challenge than woeful Savannah State.

Pitt's O vs. Virginia's D: Aside from the blowout loss to Oregon -- a fate shared by many of the Ducks' opponents in recent years -- the Virginia defense has been solid, led by playmakers such as Eli Harold and Anthony Harris. But Virginia figures to be tested this week with an offense that might have playmakers to rival even Oregon's gaudy numbers. Pitt QB Tom Savage threw six touchdowns against Duke last week, while Devin Street, Tyler Boyd and James Conner all rank among the ACC's offensive leaders so far this season.

ACC weekend rewind: Week 2

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
11:00
AM ET
Here's one last look back at the weekend that was in the ACC.

The good. Miami's 21-16 win over Florida was another strong statement for the ACC, as the league notched its second upset over a major SEC team in as many weeks. The win was the breakthrough that the Hurricanes needed after two seasons of progress under Al Golden. And, regardless of the less-than-pretty fashion it came in, the victory should provide a huge boost for the program moving forward.

[+] EnlargeWilliams
Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsBC's Andre Williams had another impressive performance in Week 2, rushing for 204 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest.
The bad. Virginia suffered one of the conference's two nonconference defeats Saturday, falling at home to Oregon 59-10. Still, we probably learned more about the Cavaliers from their Week 1 upset of BYU, which then rushed for 550 yards Saturday against Texas in another (delay-filled) upset.

The ugly. Syracuse could barely blink before it found itself down by 20 at Northwestern, which ended up winning by a 48-27 margin. The Orange had four turnovers, surrendered 581 yards of offense and allowed Wildcats quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian to go a combined 30-of-37 for 375 yards with four touchdowns and no picks. (Colter added 87 yards and a touchdown on the ground, too.)

The unfortunate turn of events. Last week NC State signal-caller Brandon Mitchell went down with a broken foot. In Week 2, Duke's Anthony Boone sustained a broken collarbone in the second quarter of the Blue Devils' win over Memphis and is out indefinitely. Brandon Connette came in and played well, completing 14 of 21 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns while adding 31 rushing yards.

The rebounds. A week after falling to SEC squads, North Carolina and Virginia Tech recovered by taking care of business. The Tar Heels tallied 511 total yards of offense and forced four turnovers in a 40-20 win over Middle Tennessee, while the Hokies' defense thrived in a 45-3 win over Western Carolina before a less-than-full Lane Stadium, which snapped a 93-game sellout streak, the nation's third-longest active streak. You have to respect Frank Beamer's comments afterward, as he thanked those who showed up.

The workhorse. How about Boston College running back Andre Williams? The senior posted his second straight 100-yard game Friday in a 24-10 win over Wake Forest, tallying 204 yards and a touchdown on 35 carries.

The Heisman dark horse. Don't look now, but C.J. Brown has been downright brilliant so far for Maryland. He threw for 275 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 30 yards and two more scores in the Terrapins' 47-10 win over Old Dominion. Brown became the ninth quarterback since 2004 to post a total QBR of 95 or higher in each of his team's first two games.

The quote. After Clemson's 52-13 win over South Carolina State, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney said: "How about that ACC? Spunky little old league." For good measure, he flashed "The U" sign before walking out of the room.

What we learned in the ACC: Week 2

September, 8, 2013
9/08/13
10:00
AM ET
For the second straight week, an ACC team knocked off an SEC heavyweight, but that wasn't the only storyline from Week 2. Here's what we learned:

[+] EnlargeStephen Morris
AP Photo/J Pat CarterStephen Morris and Miami picked up another big win for the ACC over the SEC with their victory over Florida.
Miami might be back: After an offensive performance that included just 212 total yards, fewer than 50 percent of passes completed, just 1.8 yards per carry and just one conversion on 11 third-down attempts, there's still some room for doubt about Miami's resurgence. But a win is a win, and it's the second straight week the ACC has unseated an SEC heavyweight. The Hurricanes may not be back to the level of their national-championship past, but they have more offensive talent than they showed against Florida. The real surprise on Saturday was a dominant performance by the defensive front -- a big question mark entering the season that was answered resoundingly in Miami's biggest win in nearly a decade. It's also another feather in the ACC's cap after Clemson knocked off Georgia in Week 1, giving the league at least three teams -- along with Florida State, which was on a bye -- with legitimate hopes of a BCS bowl bid.

Syracuse and Virginia couldn't follow Miami's lead: The top of the conference did its job in the opening weeks of the season, proving that the best of the ACC can stand toe-to-toe with anyone. In the middle of the pack, however, things are a bit more jumbled after Syracuse and Virginia were clobbered in nonconference tilts against ranked opponents. On the heels of strong defensive performances by both schools in Week 1, the two teams combined to allow 107 points to No. 19 Northwestern and No. 2 Oregon. Neither game was close from the outset, with Syracuse trailing the Wildcats 34-7 at the half and Oregon throttling Virginia 28-10 at the half. So while the two big wins for Clemson and Miami offered ample cachet for the ACC in the season's first two weeks, the conference lost its other four games against ranked foes and was just 2-5 against teams from BCS automatic qualifier conferences overall.

Boston College won't be a pushover: After a dismal 2012, it was easy enough to write off the Eagles as a team destined for a rebuilding phase. Add a lackluster effort early against Villanova to start the season, and it seemed appropriate to shrug off the win over FCS competition. But BC dominated Wake Forest this week, looking like a team that knows what it wants to do on both sides of the football, which is to be a physical, punishing group that will not be an easy win for anyone. Andre Williams' 204-yard rushing performance was impressive, and he's now tallied 318 yards rushing already this season. That would account for nearly 30 percent of BC's total rushing offense from all of 2012.

Duke and NC State will live and die with backups: One week after Brandon Mitchell went down with a broken foot at NC State, Duke's Anthony Boone became the second ACC quarterback to suffer a significant injury. Boone left in the second quarter against Memphis with a broken collarbone, leaving backup Brandon Connette to pick up the slack. Connette rallied the Blue Devils to 21 second-half points, including two fourth-quarter TDs to secure the win. Meanwhile, with Mitchell sidelined, NC State nearly fell to FCS foe Richmond before backup Pete Thomas engineered a 48-yard drive in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning field goal. Thomas wasn't exactly stellar -- he completed 24 of 31 passes for 237 yards and two interceptions -- and shared the workload with freshman Bryant Shirreffs, who completed all three of his passes, including one for a TD. But the Wolfpack still escaped with a win. Both NC State and Duke are now 2-0 in spite of their quarterback concerns.

Concerns remain at Virginia Tech, North Carolina: Against clearly overmatched opponents, the Hokies and Tar Heels both rebounded nicely from opening-week losses, but in some key areas, concerns linger. Logan Thomas and the Virginia Tech passing game improved markedly after a dismal performance against Alabama, but against FCS foe Western Carolina, Thomas still threw two interceptions and didn't complete a pass longer than 20 yards. Meanwhile, North Carolina's run defense was torched by South Carolina in its opener, and while the Tar Heels' front found more success against Middle Tennessee -- four sacks, four QB hurries -- it still allowed 183 yards on the ground (not counting sacks), including 109 for tailback Jordan Parker. Through two weeks, UNC ranks 84th nationally in rushing defense.

What to watch in the ACC: Week 2

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
9:00
AM ET
One week after Clemson and UNC took center stage with big nonconference games, Virginia and Miami step to the plate. Here's what to keep an eye on in Week 2 of ACC action.

1. A rivalry renewed: Once one of the most high-profile rivalries in the country, Florida and Miami have faced off just once in the past nine years -- a 26-3 Gators win in 2008. But the sparks fly again this week, and the matchup figures to live up to its rich history. Florida enters ranked No. 12 in the country, the latest SEC foe to provide a significant hurdle for the upstart ACC. Miami enters with its highest hopes in years, and a win over its in-state rival would solidify the notion that the Hurricanes are finally ready for the national spotlight again.

2. A big test for Virginia's defense: The Hoos sure looked impressive in their first game under coordinator Jon Tenuta last week, with Anthony Harris & Co. turning in a virtuoso performance in a come-from-behind win over BYU. Their reward? That'd be Oregon's high-flying offensive attack that managed to reel off 71 plays in less than 20 minutes of possession time in its opener.

3. David Watford put to the test: The bottom line for the first-year starter is that Virginia got the win, but it certainly wasn't a pretty offensive performance against BYU in Week 1. Watford was just 18-of-32 passing for 114 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His Total QBR ranked 107th nationally, and Virginia had eight three-and-outs. Fifteen of its 17 drives lasted six plays or fewer -- a major problem when trying to keep Oregon's up-tempo juggernaut off the field.

4. Syracuse vs. the Big Ten: For the second straight week, the Orange will take on a Big Ten foe, but after falling to Penn State 23-17 in Week 1, life won't get any easier this time around with a trip to No. 19 Northwestern. The defense looked solid against the Nittany Lions, but QB Drew Allen must improve on a performance that included 16-of-37 for 189 yards passing and two interceptions.

5. A rebound for Logan Thomas: Of the 121 Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks who qualified last week, none had a lower Total QBR than Thomas' 1.9. It was a dismal performance -- 5-of-26 for 59 yards and an INT -- and underscored numerous problems on Virginia Tech's offense. The receivers let Thomas down again and again, and the line didn't exactly provide smooth sailing. An overwhelmed Thomas shouldering the burden for the entire offense was the Hokies' downfall last season, and the situation doesn't appear to have changed much. On the upside, Western Carolina should feel like a weekend at the beach compared to Alabama's defense in Week 1.

[+] EnlargeLogan Thomas
Daniel Shirey/USA TODAY SportsQuarterback Logan Thomas started the season just 5-of-26 for 59 yards in Virginia Tech's loss to Alabama.
6. NC State's quarterback rotation: Brandon Mitchell's surgery to repair a broken foot appears to have been a success, but now there's the small matter of getting through the next four to six weeks without him. Dave Doeren says Pete Thomas will get the start this week but he wants to "explore his options." That's not exactly a vote of confidence, particularly when it might mean seeing some receivers and tailbacks getting a look at QB.

7. Tajh Boyd burnishes his Heisman candidacy: After the first week of games, the Clemson quarterback appears to be the Heisman front-runner, and he'll get a chance to add to his gaudy numbers against Football Championship Subdivision foe South Carolina State on Saturday. But offensive coordinator Chad Morris actually criticized his QB a bit, saying he'd like to see a faster offensive tempo.

8. Identifying a contender: Wake Forest and Boston College are both coming off down seasons in 2012, both struggled early against FCS foes in Week 1 and both eventually managed to win with relative ease. So what did we learn? Probably not much, but both teams will get a chance to prove they belong when they face off against one another Friday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

9. North Carolina's run defense: It wasn't Jadeveon Clowney who proved to be the Tar Heels' nightmare in a 27-10 opening-week loss. It was their own defense, which coughed up 228 rushing yards to the Gamecocks, including a whopping 9.6 yards per carry to sophomore Mike Davis.

10. More offense for Maryland, Duke: Both teams offered question marks entering the season. Duke was retooling its offensive pieces, while Maryland was happy to simply have a few more of its offensive stars -- namely quarterback C.J. Brown -- back at work. Both turned in dominant performances in their openers, both topping 40 points and 480 yards of offense. The Terps get newly minted FBS Independent Old Dominion this week, and Duke faces off against Memphis (9-39 over the past four seasons), meaning more fireworks are likely in store.
Week 1 was filled with introductions in the ACC, as several fan bases got acquainted with first-year starting quarterbacks. Vad Lee led Georgia Tech to a 70-0 romp over Elon, Drew Allen was named the starter at Syracuse, NC State’s Brandon Mitchell played well until he injured his foot, and the Anthony Boone era officially began at Duke. None of them, though, made the kind of splash Florida State’s Jameis Winston did in the Noles’ season opener against Pitt.

Winston completed 25-of-27 for 356 yards with four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in the 41-13 win. He set the school’s completion percentage record and record for passing yards by a freshman in his first start.

Jameis Winston
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesSeveral ACC schools debuted new QBs, none with more fanfare than Florida State's Jameis Winston.
Even Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher conceded he’d never seen anything like it.

“For a first game, I haven’t seen [a performance] of that caliber,” he said, “there’s no doubt.”

For the most part, ACC coaches were pleased with what they saw from their rookies -- or in Pitt’s case, their veteran. Senior Tom Savage hadn’t taken a snap in over two years before he lined up against the Noles at Heinz Field. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

“He was enjoying playing again,” Pitt coach Paul Chryst said. “When you sit out that long, sometimes you see it with older guys who get their first start. All of those plays are really appreciated. He was a guy who truly enjoyed playing football again. I loved his demeanor throughout the whole game, when something good happened or something bad happened.”

There was bad news in Raleigh, where Mitchell broke his foot after just three series in the first quarter. The Pack will now turn to Pete Thomas heading into Saturday’s game against Richmond. Thomas replaced Mitchell in the 41-14 win over Louisiana Tech and threw for 212 yards on 15 of 27 passing. NC State coach Dave Doeren said the coaches are going to have to be “a little more creative” with their running game because Thomas isn’t as mobile, but that Thomas doesn’t have to be a superhero to win games.

“We need him not to beat us,” Doeren said. “Just distribute the ball to the right people. Don’t try to win the game, just don’t lose it. That’s something quarterbacks can try to make too many plays when they don’t really have to. … Pete can do that. We’re looking forward to seeing him take this opportunity and do something with it.”

Doeren said the staff is trying to redshirt backup quarterback Manny Stocker, and that Stocker’s playing time last year “was premature for his growth as a player.”

“I just think a year going against our starting defense as the scout team quarterback will really benefit him,” Doeren said.

There was a lot of hype and anticipation amongst Syracuse fans about transfer quarterback Drew Allen, but the Orange’s offense looked flat in the 23-17 loss to Penn State. Christian Hackenberg, the Nittany Lions’ freshman quarterback, stole the show, while Allen threw two interceptions and no touchdowns.

“If you just look at the stat sheet, you say, ‘boy, we wish we could’ve done better,’” Syracuse coach Scott Shafer said. “But big picture, I was real pleased with the way Drew played. The things I was most pleased with, he never really was flustered on the sideline. I thought he had good control and command. He kept working towards making the next play go, and we had a few dropped balls in there and a couple of missed routes by the supporting cast, but I liked the way he worked through those situations. I’m looking forward to seeing him getting his second start this weekend against Northwestern.”

More news and notes from around the ACC …

Randy Edsall’s money quote: Maryland coach Randy Edsall was asked on Wednesday’s ACC teleconference how much he concerns himself with the school’s financial struggles and what his role is in trying to raise attendance and sponorships. “That’s somebody else’s job to worry about the financial problems,” he said. “I wasn’t the one that got them into those problems.” Talk about passing the buck.

‘Camp’ starts: Wake Forest standout receiver Michael Campanaro missed last week’s season opener against Presbyterian with a sore hamstring, but coach Jim Grobe said his top playmaker will be ready to go at Boston College on Friday, the first league game for both schools. “I think Camp could’ve played last week,” Grobe said. “He’s been having problems with his hamstring since our third scrimmage. He didn’t have a pulled hamstring, but it tightened up and it was sore, and he didn’t practice much in the week leading up to the opener. We just felt like it would be not in his best interest and ours to try and play him against Presbyterian, but he’s full speed again, and he should be fine against Boston College.”

High praise for Ducks: Virginia coach Mike London knows his defense will have its hands full against No. 2 Oregon -- twofold. “If you get tired enough, you can see double of everything,” London said. “They are as good as advertised.”

VT RB on the mend: Injured Virginia Tech running back J.C. Coleman (sprained ankles) didn’t make the trip to Alabama, but coach Frank Beamer said Coleman is on the mend for Saturday’s game against Western Carolina. “I think today is an important practice for J.C. He’s back, but exactly how far back he is, I think we need to see yet. He did some things very well yesterday, but today we’ll see exactly where he is.”

No seats in Sun Life: Miami coach Al Golden said he’s not sure how many recruits will attend Saturday’s home game against Florida, but that “it’s a who’s who from what I understand.” In order to accommodate the expected crowd, Golden said 2,000 seats have been added to Sun Life Stadium. “There’s no seats left for anybody,” he said. “We’re running out of seats for former players, high school coaches, recruits, all the way down the line. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”

James Wilder Jr. day-to-day: Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said Wilder injured his shoulder in Monday night’s win over Pitt, but that it’s not serious. “He’s doing fine,” Fisher said. “He’ll be day-to-day. He’s got a banged up shoulder, but nothing very serious. Give it a little bit of rest, and I think he’ll be fine.”

ACC lunchtime links

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
12:00
PM ET
The cure for your post-Labor Day weekend football blues ...

It was a night to remember for Florida State fans, as Jameis Winston not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded it, writes the Tallahassee Democrat.

Pittsburgh was far too passive against Florida State on Monday, and that squashed any chance at an upset, writes the Tribune-Review.

The New York Times is on the ACC bandwagon, writing that Clemson's win over Georgia means big things for the conference.

ESPN Stats & Info looks at the top Total QBR performances for Week 1 and finds two ACC quarterbacks -- and no Tajh Boyd -- on the list. So, yeah, pretty good week for ACC QBs.

Compared with Winston, Boyd and C.J. Brown, Miami QB Stephen Morris was a virtual no-show in Week 1. Al Golden is making sure that won't be the case this week against Florida, writes the Miami Herald.

Larry Fedora is taking on the role of optimist after North Carolina's rather dubious performance against South Carolina in Week 1, writes the Charlotte Observer.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Virginia Tech's loss to Alabama in Week 1 was the quick death of "Beamer Ball," writes The Washington Post.

Pete Thomas will start for NC State this week, but Dave Doeren says he'll continue to tinker with his quarterbacks until Brandon Mitchell's return, writes the Charlotte Observer.

Doeren is also asking fans to stick around for the second half of games -- regardless of the score.

After missing Wake Forest's opener, wide receiver Michael Campanaro should be ready to go this week, writes the Winston-Salem Journal.

The offensive line looked pretty good in Week 1 for Boston College, which could be a template for future success, writes the Boston Globe.

Orange Fizz parses Syracuse's loss to Penn State and finds five things worth discussing.

Athlon Sports checks in with its Week 1 power rankings in the ACC, and there seems to be unanimous agreement on the teams at the top.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 1

September, 3, 2013
9/03/13
9:00
AM ET
Clemson stole the show in Week 1, solidifying its hold on the top spot, but it was Virginia that made the most noise by knocking off BYU. Here's how the power rankings shake out after the first round of games.

1. Clemson (1-0, 0-0 ACC; LW No. 1): They are who we thought they were. Tajh Boyd and the Tigers proved they were every bit the national championship contender with a huge win over Georgia on Saturday, and while a handful of significant obstacles remain, Clemson is clearly in control of its destiny from here. Boyd was the star, but the Tigers should be thrilled, too, to see a rejuvenated Sammy Watkins, a disruptive Vic Beasley and a punishing running performance by Roderick McDowell.

2. Florida State (1-0, 1-0 ACC; LW No. 2): If Boyd set the bar for ACC quarterbacks on Saturday, Jameis Winston eagerly leapt over it Monday. The much-hyped freshman had a debut for the ages against Pitt, completing 25 of 27 passes for 356 yards and four TDs, while rushing for another. Jimbo Fisher spent the offseason trying to quiet the buzz around his QB, but it's only getting louder.

3. Miami (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 3): This just in: Duke Johnson is pretty darned good. The Miami sophomore stole the show in a 34-6 win, burnishing the hopes that Miami has finally turned things around. That theory will be put to the test this week though, when SEC foe Florida comes to town. The Hurricanes have won 11 of the past 15 games against Florida, but this marks only the second time the two schools have faced off since 2004.

4. Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 6): It's hard to take too much from a big win over Elon, but it's also hard to find any faults after one week for the Yellow Jackets. Vad Lee looked good, the running game didn't miss a beat, the defense was impressive, and the end result was the largest margin of victory for an ACC team in history.

5. Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 5): This was one of those good news-bad news games for the Hokies. The good news was, the defense looked great, holding the two-time defending champs to only 206 yards of offense (and sending Alabama fans into panic mode in the process). The bad news is, Virginia Tech still got smoked thanks to repeated special-teams breakdowns and a woeful performance by the passing game. Logan Thomas struggled mightily, and the receiving corps looks dreadful. But hey, at least they don't have to play Alabama again.

6. Virginia (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 13): The task is daunting in Week 2, when the Cavaliers host Oregon, but for now, fans should bask in the beauty of a tremendous defensive performance in a win over BYU -- easily the second-best win of the week for an ACC team. Anthony Harris was the star with 11 tackles, a sack, a blocked punt and an interception that set up the winning score, but he was just one of five UVA defenders with double-digit tackles in the game.

7. North Carolina (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 4): The good news is, North Carolina largely contained Jadeveon Clowney -- even if a few pundits chalked it up to the South Carolina defender's condition or apathy. Beyond that, however, it wasn't much of a debut for the Heels, who were burned by big plays and never really recovered from an early 14-0 hole.

8. Maryland (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 9): Well, it looks as though the Terrapins found their quarterback. C.J. Brown turned in a dominant performance in his return from an ACL injury that forced him to miss all of 2012. He accounted for five first-half touchdowns, while throwing for nearly 300 yards and running for more than 100. With a relatively manageable schedule ahead, it's not impossible to think Maryland could be riding high at 4-0 when it heads to Florida State on Oct. 5.

9. NC State (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 8): Dave Doeren's Wolfpack did a nice job in thumping a Louisiana Tech team that didn't figure to be a pushover. The key was the time of possession, where NC State held a whopping 30-minute edge, keeping Louisiana Tech's offense off the field. The only downside was the loss of starting QB Brandon Mitchell, which is why the Wolfpack drop a spot behind the suddenly QB-stacked Terrapins.

10. Duke (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 12): No Sean Renfree? No Connor Vernon? No problem for the Blue Devils in their 2013 debut. A 45-0 win over NC Central was hardly a major test, but Duke looked good in all phases of the game -- outgaining NC Central by nearly 300 yards and racking up a 76-yard punt return TD from super sophomore Jamison Crowder.

11. Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 7): The Deacons won easily, so why the drop in the Power Rankings? Mostly, it's splitting hairs. The early struggles against Presbyterian weren't exactly inspiring, and with a cluster of teams in the middle of the pack, Wake Forest simply was the least impressive of a group that mostly looked pretty good.

12. Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1 ACC, LW No. 10): It's hard to say whether Pittsburgh was that bad or Winston was that good. Either way, the result was a blowout in the Panthers’ ACC debut. Pitt should be encouraged that it moved the ball relatively well against an athletic FSU defense, and the Panthers appear to have some legitimate playmakers.

13. Syracuse (0-1, 0-0 ACC, LW No. 11): It was obvious Scott Shafer was going to have to do some rebuilding in 2013, but a 23-17 loss to start the season against Penn State only underscored how far the Orange have to go. Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen was supposed to be an answer at QB, but he didn't look good (16-of-37 for 189 yards and two INTs). This week's game against Northwestern won't get any easier.

14. Boston College (1-0, 0-0, LW No. 14): Sure, the Eagles won. That's worth celebrating. But they struggled early against Villanova, and it's clear Steve Addazio still has his work cut out for him. Make it two in a row this week against Wake Forest, however, and BC is guaranteed to climb out of the basement.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Fisher: Winston's Choice Won't Be A Surprise
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said that Jameis Winston's decision to remain in college or leave for the NFL will not be a surprise either way.
VIDEO PLAYLIST video

ACC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12